LeadingAge Magazine · March-April 2020 • Volume 10 • Number 02

A “Mindful Pause”: Study Circle Helps Leaders Reflect and Grow

February 16, 2020 | by Gene Mitchell

In this podcast, fellows of the 2019 Larry Minnix Leadership Academy explain how they examined pressing problems facing older adults, while addressing their own growth as leaders, by using a study circle process.

The Larry Minnix Leadership Academy includes a “study circle” in its curriculum. Academy fellows use the model to examine difficult and oftentimes uncomfortable issues relevant to our field. These discussions are meant to provide a vehicle for ongoing, structured dialogue, deliberation, and broadening of perspective. A study circle is a vehicle for ongoing, structured dialogue and exploration from varying perspectives. Academy fellows spend the program year creating forward progress on a complex issue without undue pressure to come to a solution.

In the podcast below, 5 fellows talk about their study circle, what they learned about themselves and the issues on which they focused, and how other providers can use the model for their own leadership growth.

The Guests

  • Dana Parsons is vice president & legislative counsel for LeadingAge Virginia.
  • Mia McFarland is residential living administrator for Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, MD.
  • Katy O'Leary is director of community development for LiveWell in Plantsville, CT.
  • Annika DiNovi is executive director of Parkshore in Seattle, WA.
  • Mark Goetz is president of the Home Care Advocacy Network in Omaha, NE.


Episode Breakdown

1:20: Definition of a study circle.

2:15: What the participants learned from the process.

4:55: Why the process uses “conversation starters.”

6:38: The major issues the fellows addressed.

9:39: Why the requirement to come to a consensus was challenging.

10:52: The impact of the conversation starters.

12:26: The impact of the study circle process on the participants’ growth as leaders.

16:03: How LeadingAge members can apply the study circle model to their own work.

19:35: End.

Gene Mitchell is editor of LeadingAge magazine.